Saturday, May 23, 2009

Philological Philanthropy

Theater Review|'The Philanthropist'

I am at a loss for words on this one; maybe because the play was light, maybe because I was drunk and slept through the last scene of the first act. In any event, Christopher Hampton's play about a 70's philology professor who's naivete is mistaken for animosity was cute. Not incredibly moving, intriguing, and at some times very callow (Hampton was only 23 when he wrote it, after all), the play managed to illicit a few laughs and smiles. Matthew Broderick was convincing enough, although at times he resorted to being too dry, perhaps mistaking the emotion for the callus simplicity needed for the role. 

Design-wise, the production was decent. The set was very, very tall (which seems to be a trademark of the American Airlines Theater) and minimal. It's saved, though by the illuminating letters across the top of walls, which aided in scene changes by spelling out one of the seven deadly sins (each character is supposed to represent one). The character Celia's costumes were very 60's London Mary Quant-esque, while Braham's multi-colored, bell bottom, three-piece suit was, while charming, a little more late 70's. 

In any event, I have no more to say about this production (mainly because last night is a bit of a blur by now), but I will point you in the direction of the New York Times review. It's harsh, but points out what's wrong with this production.    

Ben Brantley's Review


By Christopher Hampton; directed by David Grindley; sets by Tim Shortall; costumes by Tobin Ost; lighting by Rick Fisher; sound by Gregory Clarke; dialect coach, Gillian Lane-Plescia; associate artistic director, Scott Ellis. Presented by the Roundabout Theater CompanyTodd Haimes, artistic director. At the American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, (212) 719-1300. Through June 28. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes.

WITH: Matthew Broderick (Philip), Jonathan Cake (Braham), Anna Madeley (Celia),Steven Weber (Donald), Tate Ellington (John), Jennifer Mudge (Araminta) and Samantha Soule (Elizabeth)


Anonymous said...

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TheNYCourier said...